Author Archives: cdunn

UU Family Activities

There’s a lot of pressure on UU Families, and there always have been! Not only do we need to live by our Seven Principles, which are simplified below, according to color and match the wording used by Spirit Play  called Promises rather than Principles but hold the world’s major religions as sacred, and work heartily to make the world more just.

  1. Red is for Respect All Beings
  2. Orange is for Offer Fair and Kind Treatment.
  3.  Yellow is Yearn to Learn Throughout Life.
  4.  Green is for Grow by Exploring Ideas and Values Together.
  5.  Blue is for Believe in Our Ideas and Act on Them.
  6. Indigo is Insist on Peace, Freedom and Justice for All.
  7. Violet is for Value Our Interdependence with Nature.

Today on one of the news programs, the commentaries were interviewing Republicans and Democrats. I’m not sure what their goal was, but what struck me was that there were elected officials (Senators and/or Representatives) that are still questioning our US President’s origin of birth and religious preference. And that’s re-framing that issue into a nicer and more polite use of language.

With Muslim (Moo-slim) becoming one of the fastest-growing religions (but still only a small percentage of the total population) in our country, I think it’s outrageous for elected officials saying that the President is Muslim and putting a negative spin on that. JFK was Catholic; and there were similar accusations. However, JFK was actually Catholic. Barack Obama is not Muslim, at least not by his own words. He was baptized into the United Church of Christ (UCC) faith, which has been a partner of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) for several projects, such as Our Whole Lives (comprehensive sexuality education). If President Obama were Muslim, what would it really change?

America has grown more and more afraid of the Muslim faith, which is spurred on by politicians who make stupid accusations with such a negative spin. What I got out of all their jargon was that President Obama should be impeached, because he wasn’t born in the United States (false) and that he is Muslim (false); and therefore, he is somehow secretly connected to…terrorists? Muslim fundamentalist groups? anti-American organizations? (all false) There is no proof to any of these allegations, and it makes me wonder if the real problem isn’t just “skin” deep.

I’ve been taking an anti-racism class at my church. Though it seems like we should be so past these issues, as a country and a culture, we are not. If anything, we now have more issues around race. If you are “Black,” “Hispanic,” “Asian,” “Native American,” or “Middle Eastern,” then there are some stereotypical  behaviors that we, “White” Americans,” as a whole, seem to buy into. “Blacks” are criminals. “Hispanics” are illegal. “Asians” aren’t trustworthy. “Native Americans” are poor and belong on “Reservations.” “Middle Easterners” are terrorist; and they are “Muslims,” which means all “Muslims” are terrorists, as well.

As UUs, we teach about Islam or the Muslim Faith. This faith along with Christianity and the Jewish faiths are connected to Abraham or Ibrahim (Islamic name for Abraham).  Abraham is one of the characters we find in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible; Torah for Judaism; and Quran or Koran (English Spelling) for Islam. There are many similarities found in all three faiths.

I am not schooled in comparative religions and the topic is far bigger than this simple blog posting. However, for those who wish to explore this topic further, this Website has an excellent comparative chart that might help: http://www.religionfacts.com/islam/comparison_charts/islam_judaism_christianity.htm.

The sort of thinking that divides our culture is definitely not typical of how we, Unitarian Universalists (UU), want to see ourselves. The problem is that we often react stereotypically, because culturally this is the “status quo.” As UUs, we strive to break those stereotypes. Have we accomplished this completely? No. Can we do more work on this? Yes. And that’s a good thing! We, UUs, are already primed for working on these issues. All we really have to do is to acknowledge to these simple seven principles/promises:

  1. Red is for Respect All Beings
  2. Orange is for Offer Fair and Kind Treatment.
  3.  Yellow is Yearn to Learn Throughout Life.
  4.  Green is for Grow by Exploring Ideas and Values Together.
  5.  Blue is for Believe in Our Ideas and Act on Them.
  6. Indigo is Insist on Peace, Freedom and Justice for All.
  7. Violet is for Value Our Interdependence with Nature.

I like thinking about our principles as promises – promises we make to ourselves and others about how we want to live our lives. This is the language of “Spirit Play,” a religious education system based on the Christian curriculum, Godly Play. Nita Penfold is one of the creators of “Spirit Play;”  and she remains the promoter, and the main trainer. If we each made a commitment to truly honor each of these “Promises,” and worked toward each of these each week, the world would slowly change.

As a family, you could set goals to work on one “Promise” a week…or during the Winter Holiday from school, you might work on one promise a day. Set goals and expectations, so that there are real and measurable results for your children to experience.  “Respect All Beings” can be a challenge for siblings in close quarters, but what if you choose a special treat as an incentive. It doesn’t have to be big! An extra half-hour of TV or an extra sweet treat are both good incentives. “Offer Fair and Kind Treatment” could mean a whole day devoted to shut-ins or working at an animal shelter. “Yearn to Learn Throughout Life” can be exciting in many ways. You could learn about homelessness by working at a family shelter to serve an evening’s meal or visit a museum to learn about history or how things work. Try to relate this learning to Spiritual Growth and Faith in Action. “Grow by Experiencing Ideas and Values Together” could link to the previous day’s work through conversation or more concrete activities, such as understanding what homelessness is about and figuring out what you can do about it as a family. This could be practical and political. “Believe in Our Ideas and Act on Them” is again back to putting our Faith into Action. Perhaps, you take your plan from the day before and put it into action, which could look like a letter written to a public official (local, state, or national) or doing some kind of project. “Insist on Peace, Freedom and Justice” builds on putting Faith into Action. Choose to express your Faith in Action on a larger scale or choose a new topic with which to work. There are many ways for you to work on Peace or Freedom or Justice. One way to make this meaningful is to let your children brainstorm and vote on the projects that you wish to work on during your week or the new year. “Value Our Interdependence with Nature” works great as a way to get out in nature. No matter what the weather, try to experience nature in some small way. Make bird feeders, go for a nature walk, observe how nature lives in our own back yard. Habitats of wild animals have been destroyed by housing and commercial development. Learning how to create a habitat or making your own yard friendly toward the wild animals that you frequently see, such as birds and squirrels can be a way to value our natural world. The National Association of Wildlife at http://www.nwf.org can be a great resource. If you create a habitat in your back yard, you can get it certified, put up a plaque in your yard, and be one more supporter of wildlife. I don’t mean to support such creatures as bears in your back yard, but our smaller animals and birds can be just as much fun to watch as it is to create the environment to allow them to flourish. Bee populations are dropping, which is critical to our food supply because they help pollination. Butterflies can also help to pollinate; and their numbers are getting smaller, as well.

Connie Dunn is a retired Religious Educator. She continues to write children’s stories, such as Lights for Luucy that is now available at https://www.createspace.com/4445180 and on Amazon.com. See other Religious Educational material at http://www.UUStoryteller.com. Join our mailing list at http://forms.aweber.com/form/84/932948384.htm.